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Can we encourage girls’ mobility towards science-related careers? Disconfirming stereotype belief through expert influence

Abstract

A study was conducted to explore expert influence as a possible way to encourage girls’ mobility towards math- and science-related careers. High school students were exposed to an expert source presenting “scientific evidence” that contrary to stereotype, girls are better than boys in all subject domains. Beliefs related to stereotype content, self-evaluations and intentions to engage in math- and science-related careers were assessed before and after exposure to influence. While most participants were influenced at the level of stereotype content, only girls who did not personally believe the stereotype prior to influence, and boys who did, increased their intentions to engage in math/science-related careers. Implications of the findings are discussed, with an emphasis on the possible ways to influence girls who firmly believe in the stereotype.

Résumé

Une étude explore l’influence d’une source experte en tant que moyen susceptible d’encourager la mobilité des filles vers les carrières liées aux mathématiques et aux sciences. Des collégiens ont été exposés à un argumentaire scientifique défendu par une source experte et stipulant que, contrairement au stéréotype, les filles sont meilleures que les garçons dans toutes les matières scolaires. Les croyances reliées au stéréotype, les auto-évaluations et l’intention de s’engager dans des carrières liées aux mathématiques et aux sciences ont été mesurées avant et après l’exposition à l’influence. Alors que la plupart des sujets sont influencés au niveau du contenu du stéréotype, seules les filles qui ne croyaient pas au stéréotype et les garçons qui y croyaient avant l’exposition à l’influence ont augmenté leur intention de s’engager dans des carrières liées aux mathématiques et aux sciences. Les implications de ces résultats sont discutées, en mettant l’accent sur les manières possibles d’influencer les filles qui croient fermement au stéréotype.

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This study was supported by the National Foundation for Scientific Research, Switzerland. The first author would like to thank the Universities of Lausanne and Geneva for awarding her the IRIS scholarship (the present manuscript was written during her stay at the Geneva University, financed by this scholarship).

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Selimbegovic, L., Chatard, A. & Mugny, G. Can we encourage girls’ mobility towards science-related careers? Disconfirming stereotype belief through expert influence. Eur J Psychol Educ 22, 275 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03173426

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Key words

  • Change and resistance
  • Expert influence
  • Stereotype belief
  • Vocational choice